Bulls Trade Kukoc to 76ers
Toni Kukoc, the last key player from the Chicago Bulls’ championship dynasty, was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday in a three-team deal involving the Golden State Warriors.
The 76ers sent guard Larry Hughes, 21, and forward Billy Owens, 30, to Golden State, which dealt a conditional first-round draft pick to the Bulls. Chicago, which has stockpiled three first-round picks for this year in the wake of their messy breakup, also got forward Bruce Bowen, 28, from the 76ers and guard John Starks, 34, from the Warriors.
The 76ers got a potent scorer to complement NBA scoring leader Allen Iverson, making them a serious threat in the East.
While Kukoc solidifies the 76ers’ position against more versatile, experienced Eastern teams, it could be short-lived. Kukoc, 31, is in the final year of his contract, though the 76ers didn’t sound worried.
“His experience will help us tremendously this season, hopefully in the playoffs this year and in the future,” said Billy King, the 76ers’ general manager. “We’re not doing this just as a short-term thing. Our goal is to have Toni Kukoc finish his career here.”
The 76ers said Kukoc would arrive in Philadelphia today and play Friday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Presumably, he will start at small forward, but Coach Larry Brown was ill and unavailable to confirm that.
The draft pick which goes to Chicago is Washington’s pick left over from the Chris Webber trade. If it’s in the top three picks this year, the Bulls have to wait for a first-round pick in 2001.
Hughes, drafted eighth overall in 1998 and averaging 10 points, didn’t agree with Brown or fit in the 76ers’ offense with Iverson at shooting guard. He was nearly dealt to Miami as part of a deal for Jamal Mashburn recently.
The deal means Philadelphia has traded three of its last four top draft picks--Jerry Stackhouse, Keith Van Horn and Hughes. Iverson was the No. 1 overall pick in 1996.
“I am very excited to be coming to Philadelphia,” Kukoc said in a statement released by the 76ers.
Kukoc, who had also been mentioned in possible deals involving the Lakers that would have reunited him with Coach Phil Jackson, is averaging 18 points and 5.4 rebounds in 24 games.
Owens is averaging 5.9 points and 4.2 rebounds and Bowen is averaging 1.4 points. Starks is averaging 14.7 points.